Having a baby is a big decision, but no one really thinks about all of the important details of actually becoming a parent until after the nine months have come and gone.
Here are 21 things you should do before you begin trying to conceive:
1. Talk to your partner about parenthood
Are you both ready for this important step? Raising a child can take an entire village. Be sure that you two are well prepared to uphold this new, exciting and life-changing responsibility.
2. Stop taking birth control pills
Most women stop taking their daily pill a few months before they plan on trying to conceive. Stopping your birth control a few months in advance can get your menstrual cycle back on track and give you time to figure out when you are ovulating.
3. Take prenatal vitamins
It is a good idea to start a prenatal or a daily vitamin that includes 400 micrograms of folic acid in the months leading up to pregnancy. Folic acid can reduce the risk for birth defects by 70 percent.
4. Be aware of your mental health
Women who suffer from mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety are more likely to have fertility problems. The raging hormones in pregnancy can also enhance symptoms. If you are prone to mental health conditions, consider visiting with a doctor to prescribe you an antidepressant through your pregnancy.
5. Decide where you want to live
Do you want to raise children in the current house and town you live in? Do you have too little space? Consider and plan for your future environment before you plan on conceiving.
6. Set up a savings fund for your future child
College is expensive. Why not start saving up for your child's future now? Just start placing twenty dollars from every paycheck in a savings fund. Money adds up quickly throughout the years.
7. Talk to your loved ones about their pregnancy
Ask your sisters, your aunt, your grandma and your mom about their pregnancies. Ask about complications, how long it took them to conceive and any other questions you are concerned about. There is nothing more comforting than hearing about someone else's childbearing experience.
8. Limit your caffeine intake
That daily Starbucks run might need to start becoming a weekly Starbucks run. Doctors have traced some miscarriages to too much caffeine intake. They recommend limiting yourself to a small 12 ounce cup of coffee a day or about 100 milligrams of caffeine.
9. Consider genetic screening
If either of you have family history with genetically transmitted diseases, a genetic specialist can give you information about the condition and your options for reproduction.
10. Schedule a pre-pregnancy exam with your physician
Consulting with your doctor about your decision to conceive is especially important. The doctor can evaluate if your body is in good health and also determine if you have any Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) that need to be treated.
11. Withdraw from alcohol and drugs
Refraining from smoking and drinking during pregnancy is common sense. But, if you have a habit of going out with friends for drinks, or you enjoy the occasional martini, now might be the time to start preparing yourself for cold turkey quits when you are expecting. A sudden stop in alcohol intake can shock your entire system.
12. Visit the dentist
Pregnant women are more prone to gum disease during pregnancy. Make sure you have a check-up before you get pregnant and depending on what your dentist finds, he or she may want to see you every few months throughout your pregnancy.
13. Aim for a healthy weight
Could you gain a few pounds? Or do you need a few to lose? Starting off in your pregnancy at an already healthy weight will make it easier to shed that post-pregnancy weight. Being too thin can also hinder your chances of getting pregnant. Talk to your doctor about what your ideal weight should be.
14. Get a decent amount of sleep every night
You aren't going to be doing much sleeping after the baby is born, but a lot of women forget that sleep doesn't come easy during pregnancy as well. Keep your body healthy and get enough sleep.
15. Discover your personal stress reliever
Pregnancy and raising children can be stressful. Discover what keeps you sane and stick to it-whether it is diving into a good book, going for a good run or doing yoga. Find what keeps you ticking and rely on your stress reliever when things get overwhelming.
16. Travel and explore
When you have small children, you will find that the ease of traveling declines. So, take the time to travel and explore all the sights you want to see before you settle down with a baby.
17. Consider your hair color
If you have a very high-maintenance hair color, it might be best to ease off of coloring your hair so often a few months in advance to conceiving. The reasons being are first, dying your hair becomes a major hassle when you are expecting, and secondly, doctors recommend reducing the amount of hair dye you use during your first trimester.
18. Stock up on maternity clothes
You need to prepare to clothe your baby bump. Refrain from buying your regular clothes because you will definitely outgrow them in the coming months.
19. Create an exercise schedule
Beginning an exercise schedule before conception can increase your desire to stick with the plan throughout and after your pregnancy.
20. Be aware of money
Raising children is expensive. Make a plan for your job, maternity leave and save money for a rainy day. Also be aware of your medical insurance coverage.
21. Spend a lot of time with your significant other
Having a baby is one of the most life-changing things. Up until now it has just been the two of you. Although you and your significant other are in this parenthood thing together, don't neglect each other before and after pregnancy.